While this season may have had a bittersweet ending with the early exit in the playoffs, the Rams were successful this year. They led the NFL with 6 All-Pro Players, and won the NFC West for the first time since 2003. They also have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL with an average age of 25.09 which was 2nd in the NFL only to Cleveland. Let’s look at the potential off-season shakeups that could impede the Rams ability to take that next step forward in 2018.
Stability for Jared Goff
Goff had a major increase in his overall QBR compared from this year to his last. In 7 games last year, he averaged a 63.6 total QBR whereas this year in 16 games he averaged 100.5. This was also his first year playing with this new wide receiver core. An offseason will only help improve the timing and chemistry between him and this very young and talented skill position group.
The Rams did lose a key component to this yea’rs success as QB Coach Greg Olsen left to take the Offensive Coordinator position in Oakland. The spot was not empty long, as the Rams have already promoted former assistant WR Coach Zac Taylor to QB’s coach. It will be interesting to see with the departure of Greg Olsen and possible loss of free agent wideout Sammy Watkins, if Goff will take a step forward or back.
Potential Free Agents on Roster
I think the Rams top offseason priority is signing Aaron Donald long term. This year he tied his career high sack record with 11, and he did it appearing in 2 fewer games. Aaron Donald deserves a new contract that would make him the highest payed defensive lineman in the game. Pay the man.
The Rams have a huge decision to make when it comes to the secondary as both Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner will be free agents this year. I’m not sure that with the Donald extension looming that the front office will be able to sign both players to long term, large deals. With that being said the Rams have franchise tagged Johnson the last two years. I think this is the year they let him walk and sign Joyner long term.
While Connor Barwin is a great addition to a locker room, he is on the backend of his career. I think the Rams would be able to find a young replacement early in the draft that can fill that OLB position.
Sammy Watkins is due to be a free agent this year, but has voiced his willingness to return to the team. It will be interesting to see if the Rams decide to use the franchise tag on Watkins to bring him back next year, and eventually signing him long term. I just don’t see them letting Watkins walk after playing only one season when they gave up a 2nd round pick and EJ Gaines to get him.